01 May 2013


In the latter part of the 19th Century, thousands of our Carpatho-Rusyn ancestors came directly from their home villages in Europe to the expanding steel, oil refining and auto industries in Northwest Indiana (NWI) and the Chicago area.  Others moved from the coal mines of southern Illinois or the steel mills and mines of Pennsylvania and Ohio to the towns surrounding Lake Michigan, causing substantial growth in those areas.
Because their church was an important part of their culture, our forefathers/mothers soon undertook saving money to build churches and bring priests from “the Old Country” to America.  Among those churches are/were:
BC-Byzantine Catholic, BU—Byzantine Ukrainian, C-R—Carpatho-Rusyn, OCA—Orthodox Church in America

ILLINOIS:       Holy Trinity Cathedral OCA, Chicago (1892)
                        St. Nicholas OCA, Joliet (1903)
                        St. Mary (Holy Protection of the Blessed Virgin Mary) BC, Seely Avenue,                                                  Chicago (1903), closed. 
                        St. Michael C-R, Niles (1914) (formerly Campbell Avenue, Chicago)
                        St. Mary Assumption BC, Joliet (1915), closed
                        St. Peter & St. Paul OCA, Chicago (1932), now in Burr Ridge
                        St. Mary BC Mission Parish, Oak Lawn (1978) started by St. Mary/Seely
                           Ave. Annunciation BC, Homer Glen (1998), combination of St. Mary 
                          (Seely Ave.),St. Mary Mission (Oak Lawn) and St. Mary (Joliet)

INDIANA:     St. Mary BC., Whiting (1899)
                        St. Michael BC, Gary (1911) now in Merrillville
                        St. Nicholas C-R, Gary (1911) now in Hobart
                        Descent of the Holy Ghost (Spirit) C-R, East Chicago (1917)                                                                        now in Schererville
                        St. Michael BU, Mishawaka (1918)
                        Holy Ghost BC, Indiana Harbor (1920) closed
                        St. Basil BC, East Chicago
                        St. Nicholas BC, Hammond (1922) now Munster, IN           

WISCONSIN: Holy Trinity OCA, Clayton (1902)
                        St. Mary OCA, Cornucopia (1906)
                        St. Nicholas OCA, Kenosha (1912) 
                        Holy Assumption OCA, Lublin (1908) 
                        SS. Cyril and Methodius OCA, Milwaukee (1927)
                        St. John the Baptist OCA, Stanley (1906)

Unfortunately, documentary records of Rusyns and their settlements are disappearing daily, often discarded by those who have no knowledge of or interest in their Rusyn ancestors or history.  Before any more documentation disappears, the Carpatho-Rusyn Society/Lake Michigan Chapter is undertaking a project to preserve our ancestors’ stories before they are lost forever. 
However, we need the help of Rusyns in the four states surrounding Lake Michigan who might have documents, photos, diaries, other memorabilia and stories or other knowledge of these pioneers to share them with our chapter.  We would like you to share your stories and/or the stories that Baba and Dido told you about their adventure to America with us. 

 If you have ancestors with roots in the Lake Michigan area (or anywhere in the US) or have answers to any of the following questions, we would love to hear from you:

--what Old Country villages contributed to each community (found in metrical records of churches);
--employment opportunities in various areas that attracted immigrants;

--institutions/organizations established (churches, cemeteries, fraternal organizations, musical/dance/theatrical groups;
--businesses owned by Rusyns (bars, groceries, funeral directors, etc.);
 --names of fraternal organizations and lodge numbers;

--prominent/influential Rusyn community members and church founders;

--details of church court cases (e.g., East Chicago, goldmines of info, e.g., names of those involved);

--program booklets from church/community events (i.e., "Greek Catholic Rusin Day" held at Wicker Park in Whiting in the 1930s).

Our chapter plans to share the information and/or donated artifacts from this project with the C-RS Cultural Center in Munhall, PA where they will be preserved, displayed and/or archived. You may also email scanned documents or photos (include names of people and their villages, name of event if appropriate or any other information that may be helpful to future generations searching for their Rusyn roots). 

Our LMC Board would like to get others involved in this project.  If you would like to help gather information and/or interview your family or people from your church or have Rusyn items you’d like to donate, please respond to this email as soon as you receive it.   

Those interested in helping us collect stories and artifacts are asked to meet at 6 pm Thursday, May 9 at St. Nicholas Byzantine Catholic Church, 8103 Columbia Ave., Munster, IN.  The church is easily accessible off I-80/94.  Please RSVP to lakemichiganrusyns@gmail.com by Tuesday, May 7 if you plan to attend the meeting in Munster.

John Schweich from the National C-RS board will be coming from Pennsylvania next week to do some research on Carpatho-Rusyn churches in the NW Indiana and Chicago areas for his presentation at the Czechoslovak Genealogical International Society in Chicago this October.  He will share his expertise on gathering information from Rusyns at the meeting.

If you have further questions or would like to help or know of someone we should interview, please email me at: lakemichiganrusyns@gmail.com.  

Please feel free to share this project information with other Carpatho-Rusyns who may be interested in their history and our project. 

Hope to see you in Munster next week,

Charlotte Pribish Conjelko
Carpatho-Rusyn Society/
Lake Michigan Chapter

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